MOSCOW, May 12 (RAPSI) – The Nigerian government on Monday rejected Boko Haram’s offer to exchange captive schoolgirls for imprisoned militants, Agence France Presse reports.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau made the offer in a video released on Monday. Nigerian Interior Minister Abba Moro said “the option of [the] swap of innocent citizens with people who have taken arms against the country... is not on the table.”

Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a boarding school in northern Nigeria on April 14 and abducted another eight girls on May 5. About 50 girls are believed to have escaped.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden,” had previously said the girls should not have been at school and should get married instead. 
Citing its sources, AFP says the militant group is holding 223 girls.

The video released on Monday showed over 130 formerly Christian girls, dressed in hijab and full-length cloaks, chanting from the Quran. The Boko Haram leader said the girls had converted to Islam. According to earlier reports, Abubakar Shekau had threatened to sell some of them.

he Nigerian government is being sharply criticized at home and by the international community for its inability to find and release the girls.  Amnesty International said on Friday that available testimonies “reveal that Nigerian security forces failed to act on advance warnings about Boko Haram’s armed raid on the state-run boarding school in Chibok, which led to the abduction of more than 240 schoolgirls.”